Matt McCarten writes in the HoS:
In two quick simple decisions John Key transformed this year’s election, turning the tables on his opponents.
Setting the election date for November 26 was signalled well in advance. But I can’t remember any time when an incumbent prime minister didn’t keep the opposition (and the country) guessing on an election date right up until he or she popped up to the Governor-General to resign.
This one small perk of power was to keep your opposition off guard about dates. As someone who has had to run a few campaigns, it matters.
Not knowing when you can book venues, travel and events does matter.
The assured manner Key has gone about his announcement shows a confidence that should unnerve Phil Goff. To most voters Key has merely made a practical and transparent decision without any apparent political advantage.
The ones who will most be grateful to Key for the early announcement will be the Electoral Commission – they get nine months to organise an election, instead of six weeks. It means venues for polling places can be booked with certainity.
But the real stinger that deserves high praise was Key’s kneecapping of National nemesis Winston Peters.
Over recent months Peters has been slowly but consistently gaining support in the polls to the point where he could quite possibly once again have become the kingmaker in any post-election negotiations.
In one swipe Key has almost certainly dealt Peters a mortal blow. More importantly he got Goff as well. It’s a bold and gutsy move. Key made his fortune by taking calculated risks and he’s made what I suspect is a winning chess move. …
In one swoop Key gives us two choices of government after the election – a government led by him or a Labour/NZ First/Greens alternative. Voters make your choice.
I was astonished Goff and Peters claimed Key was naive and arrogant. It was a masterstroke.
And even better it was the right thing to do.
Goff has no choice but to accept Peters as his ally and this will hurt him. Any votes NZ First now gets won’t come from anyone who wants Key as prime minister.
Indeed. A vote for Winston is a vote for Goff to be PM, and a vote for Labour is a vote for Winston to be a Minister.
Key is positioning himself as the forward-looking positive leader and Goff is saddled with the old bodgie. Given the fact Goff was first in cabinet 36 years ago, to say he’s looking a bit tired is an understatement.
26 years ago. But it has been 42 years since Phil Goff joined the Labour Party.
Goff’s cautious reshuffle of his frontbench reinforces the problem. Only one change in the front bench at the same time as every old Helen Clark hack keeps their job.
It signals Goff does not have control of his caucus, he is timid by nature or he hasn’t got enough talent in his caucus. I suspect it’s all three.
I think it is more the first.Tags: John Key, Matt McCarten